Pitch perfect!

Employers should never forget that job candidates are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing the candidate, writes Nikki Murran

Job interviews are not merely a one-way street whereby interviewees must pull out all the stops to impress a prospective employer. Particularly in today’s competitive market, the employer also needs to guarantee they are presenting an attractive option. With that in mind, Excel Recruitment’s Nikki Murran outlines how to ensure your interview pitch hits the mark



6 June 2023

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A new client called me last week, frustrated that they had offered a job to five separate candidates, only to be turned down each time. It was a good job, with a solid package, a decent work-life balance, and plenty of progression opportunities. So, what was the problem?

Hoping to help, I sent him a couple of strong retailers that were interested in his position. However, when I called each after the interviews, I was informed they no longer wanted the job. It turns out, whilst the role is great, the client doing the interview was doing a poor job of enticing the candidates. In fact, he was practically sending them running, with worst-case scenarios, stories of failed past managers, and an offloading of every problem facing the store and potential new manager!

It’s something I have seen time and again – clients forgetting that candidates are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing the candidate!

Thankfully, this is one of the easiest recruitment problems to fix, and one which, when resolved, can have an immediate positive impact on your recruitment drive.


Outlining an honest overview of the job, company culture and challenges in a transparent way will make a positive impression and ultimately make the recruitment process more effective

Gone are the days when you could sit down with a potential hire and grill them for 60 minutes before shaking hands and stating that you will be in touch in due course. In a world of a “what’s in it for me” attitude, I always advise clients to look at the interview in two parts. 50% of the time screening the candidate – questions about their CV, experience, skills, their ability to do the job, and their likelihood of being a cultural fix for the store. The second half is about you selling the job to them. This should include an honest and realistic breakdown of the role, the hours, duties, and expectations you have of them. It should also include an overview of why someone would want to leave their current employer to come work for you. This might be anything from more flexible hours, and a lovely team environment to tangible perks like a gym membership, free coffee, or store discounts. Regardless of the benefits – now is your time to highlight them all!

Motivation for a move

One of the first questions I ask any candidate is why they are looking for a new job. Their answer directly dictates the role which I send them for. There is a common misconception that most candidates are looking for more money. I have found this is rarely the main motivating factor for a move. More often, the reasons are much more personal. They are looking for somewhere which will facilitate a little more time with their kids, or a job where they feel valued, and have more autonomy, perhaps somewhere they can progress or simply somewhere offering a location slightly closer to home.

By identifying this motivation, you can then pitch your job to them based on what they are looking for. If you speak at length about how many opportunities for growth you offer when the candidate is solely focused on finding a role where they can take a Tuesday off to finish their degree, you are wasting everyone’s time. Worse still, you are unlikely to secure that candidate, even though you might have been happy to offer the Tuesdays off!

What’s in it for me?

When clients register a new role with me, we go through a list of questions so my team and I can find the most suited candidate. We cover things like team size, the system the store uses, average weekly, sales, the duties of the role, and the hours involved. Often, clients are looking for someone doing this role in a similar environment, ideally with a track record of success.

Once we have covered the basics, I go on to ask clients to tell me “Why should a candidate, doing a similar role, in a similar store, for a similar package, leave their current job and join you?” Basically, what’s in it for them? Often the client has no answer until I follow up and ask about progression, culture, small perks, big perks, flexibility, and training. Usually, we can put together a nice list of benefits and perks and a solid answer.

It is this answer which you should keep in your recruitment toolkit. Going through what you can offer the candidate during an interview, and why your store or company is a great place to work, will ultimately result in more offer acceptances and fewer counter offers.


If I had to highlight just one thing for clients to focus on during an interview it would be honesty. Outlining an honest overview of the job, company culture and challenges in a transparent way leaves a positive impression on the candidate. It’s not to say that you should outline every possible problem, but perhaps highlighting where you see some challenges and what the candidate would need to bring with them to solve them can really build a connection. It will also have the added benefit of warding off candidates who feel your store’s challenges are too much for their abilities.

Most of us fear the unknown, so attending an interview where the client is honest, transparent, and realistic can set exactly the right tone and tick a lot of the candidates’ boxes when they are looking for their next potential employer!

Nikki Murran,


Grocery Retail Recruitment,

Excel Recruitment






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